Strategic Partners

Closing the Cyber Skills Gap

Mohammad Jamal Tabbara, Senior Solutions Architect, Infoblox, shares insights on how business leaders can help bridge the cyber skills gap.

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Mohammad Jamal Tabbara, Infoblox
Mohammad Jamal Tabbara, Infoblox

IT departments are suffering from a chronic lack of cyber skills. The IT industry is the fastest evolving industry out there with a myriad of various different technologies and solutions. A subject matter expert today could be completely out of the loop the next. It’s not enough to be a technically well-rounded IT professional, but must also understand the business needs and objectives. It is very difficult to find talent that can have all of those qualities. If you do find any, make sure you do everything you can to keep them.

There are currently limited skills in the market which can be attributed to the actual lack of manpower. A lot of companies have one or two technical resources that are certified on three or four different technologies. This puts a strain on resources and compromises the level of service.

Engineers are mostly motivated by knowledge and technical development. Hire less number of people but make sure you continuously develop and do everything you can to retain them. You will notice an immediate and positive impact to your business. I think it is important for companies to keep abreast of which emerging technologies are likely to necessitate a future skill set need among their employees and then facilitate training programmes to get their employees the skills they will need down the road.  The biggest barrier to training is time constraints as training programs tend to be quite time consuming. A lot of these training programs also seem to be extremely heavy on content which can lead to information overload. Training programs need to be simplistic and to the point.

It’s true, there isn’t a lot of talent if one looks on the surface. Don’t just judge a book by its cover. Whether it’s a negative or positive judgement for that matter. I often get asked to provide feedback on whether a candidate is ‘good enough’ to hire. If that’s the approach you should stop hiring and change your approach all together. Would you want a ‘good enough’ boss or a ‘good enough’ engineer implementing the solution you’ve just spent several hundred thousand dollars on? Chances are every one of you will say no to all of the above. Qualities such as teamwork, integrity and emotional intelligence are absolutely key when making a hire and they shouldn’t be binary. But the one area that I believe employers should pay very close attention to is the appetite of that individual to learn and to be coached. Finally, when you get someone good, hire them, take time to understand them and invest in them.

Some organisations are mitigating talent shortage by casting the net wider and recruiting talent from markets outside the region. In addition to casting the net wider, there are a number of highly experienced agencies that specialise in IT recruitment that we would advise CIOs to get in touch with.

We believe that the best talent wants to work for the best companies. While offering an attractive compensation package is important, it is equally important to have a really strong culture – one in which employees are more than just a number and where there is a strong emphasis on having “fun”. 

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